When we send our kids to day care, preschool, or elementary school, it sometimes feels like we’re exposing them to a world of germs and common schoolyard sicknesses. Children of these ages are more susceptible to outbreaks due to the close contact they have with their classmates. To help parents keep their kids healthy, here is a rundown of the most common outbreaks among children, and how treat them:
6 of the Most Common Childhood Outbreaks
1. Common Cold: results in nasal congestion, sore throat, and cough. Kids are most contagious for the first two to three days, however can infect others from a week prior to symptoms until symptoms are cleared. This is why it is important to keep them home from school allowing them to rest, eat healthy and take over the counter medicine for a quick recovery. Sending a child to school with a cold will make them more susceptible to secondary infections like strep throat or pneumonia.
2. Strep Pharyngitis: causes sore throat and fever. Sore throats are a leading cause of pediatric ambulatory care visits. Swift treatment is particularly important for children two years or older, as leaving a sore throat untreated could lead to rheumatic fever. After 24 hours on antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, strep is no longer contagious.
3. Pink Eye: marked by redness, itching, inflammation, yellow or white discharge and inflammation of the eyelids. Pink eye is spread by a child touching their own eye and then touching the eye of another child, or by touching the infection in one’s own nose/sinus. Usually contagious until the tearing, discharge and matting of the eyes dissipates. This uncomfortable condition can be treated by taking a warm cloth to the eye several times a day and will need an antibiotic if your doctor deems necessary, however most cases of conjunctivitis are viral and don’t require an antibiotic.
4. Head Lice: results in a tickling feeling, itching, and sores on the head due to tiny parasites in human hair. Avoid by not sharing combs, hats, hair clips, and making sure mats aren’t too close during naptime at your child’s school or day care. Treat lice with a prescription or over the counter hair shampoo, make sure to disinfect brushes by soaking them in hot water, and clean all items that your child has been in contact with during the 48 hours before treatment.
5. Chickenpox: caused by a virus and results in an itchy rash with fluid-filled blisters that eventually scab over. Children are no longer contagious after all lesions have scabbed over. The virus spreads easily from kids with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or those who haven’t been vaccinated. Use over the counter topical medications for the itch, such as calamine lotion and wear cool clothing. Try to prevent your child from scratching or picking at scabs.
6. Stomach virus: results in abdominal cramping, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. The stomach virus spreads when a child who is ill doesn’t wash their hands well after wiping themselves after going to the bathroom, or if they have contact with their own vomit and the germs come in contact with communal surfaces, or if these same germs get into shared food. The virus can be present for weeks; so keep kids home from school, hydrate with water and Pedialyte and avoid Gatorade or drinks with a lot of sugar. When your child is able to tolerate solid foods, use the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. If your child appears dehydrated or lethargic, isn’t eating/drinking or urination is limited, go to the emergency room immediately.
Being well informed and following these treatment suggestions may help your children recover quickly, and get right back to running around the playground!
By Dr. Jill Swartz for the Healthy Moms Magazine
Dr. Jill Swartz is a physician at GoHealth Urgent Care in New York. Dr. Swartz received her Bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis MO and then attended Tufts School of Medicine in Boston where she completed her residency at Tufts Family Medicine. Dr. Swartz has experience in urgent care, primary care, and student health and she loves working at GoHealth Urgent Care due to the diversity of patients and issues seen in an urgent medical care setting. Like GoHealth Urgent Care on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GoHealthUrgentCare.